Should You Eat Tree Leaves? Safe vs Poisonous

Should You Eat Tree Leaves? Safe vs Poisonous

Should You Eat Tree Leaves? 6 That are Safe and 6 Poisonous


When it comes to survival situations, knowing which plants are safe to eat can be a game-changer. Tree leaves, for example, can provide a source of nutrients when other food sources are scarce. However, it’s important to exercise caution because not all tree leaves are safe for consumption. In this article, we will explore six tree leaves that are safe to eat and six that are poisonous, so you can make an informed decision when foraging for survival.

Safe Tree Leaves to Eat

1. Birch Leaves

Birch trees are known for their slender trunks and distinctive white bark. But did you know that their leaves are also edible? Birch leaves contain vitamin C and have diuretic properties, making them a great addition to your survival menu. They can be boiled or steeped to make a refreshing tea or eaten raw in a salad.

2. Linden Leaves

Linden trees, also known as basswood trees, have heart-shaped leaves that are safe to eat. Linden leaves have a mild, pleasant flavor and can be boiled to make a tea or used in cooking as a substitute for lettuce. They are rich in antioxidants and can have a calming effect on the body, making them a great choice in stressful situations.

3. Mulberry Leaves

Mulberry trees are known for their delicious berries, but their leaves are also edible and packed with nutrients. Mulberry leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly bitter taste. They are high in protein, fiber, and essential minerals, making them an excellent addition to your survival diet.

4. Beech Leaves

Beech trees are known for their smooth bark and beautiful leaves. These leaves are safe to eat and can be consumed raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly nutty flavor and can be used as a substitute for lettuce or spinach. Beech leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and calcium.

5. Oak Leaves

Oak trees are abundant in many parts of the world and their leaves can be a valuable source of nutrition in a survival situation. Oak leaves are best consumed after boiling or steaming to remove their high tannin content, which can cause stomach upset if consumed in large quantities. They can be used as a leafy green in soups, stews, or salads.

6. Pine Tree Needles

While not technically leaves, the needles of pine trees are edible and can provide a good source of vitamin C. Pine needle tea is a popular survival drink that can be made by steeping the needles in hot water. It has a citrus-like flavor and a refreshing aroma. Just make sure to avoid consuming yew, Norfolk Island pine, or Ponderosa pine, as their needles are toxic.

Poisonous Tree Leaves

1. Yew Leaves

Yew trees are commonly found in gardens and parks, but their leaves should never be consumed. Yew leaves contain toxic compounds called taxines, which can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms, cardiac arrest, and even death. If you come across a yew tree, steer clear of its leaves and berries.

2. Poison Ivy Leaves

Poison ivy is notorious for causing an itchy rash upon contact, but its leaves can also be toxic if ingested. The leaves of poison ivy are covered in an oil called urushiol, which can cause severe allergic reactions and internal irritation if swallowed. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the appearance of poison ivy leaves and avoid eating them at all costs.

3. Oleander Leaves

Oleander is a commonly cultivated shrub known for its vibrant flowers, but its leaves are highly toxic. Ingesting oleander leaves can lead to severe cardiac effects, including irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure. It’s best to steer clear of oleander leaves and seek alternative food sources in a survival situation.

4. Castor Bean Leaves

The castor bean plant is known for its oil-rich seeds, which are used in various industries. However, the leaves of the castor bean plant contain a deadly toxin called ricin. Ingesting even a small amount of ricin can be fatal. It’s important to avoid consuming any part of the castor bean plant unless you have extensive knowledge and experience in processing it safely.

5. Angel’s Trumpet Leaves

Angel’s trumpet, a flowering shrub with trumpet-shaped flowers, is widely cultivated for its ornamental value. However, its leaves, seeds, and flowers contain toxic compounds known as tropane alkaloids. Ingesting angel’s trumpet leaves can lead to hallucinations, confusion, and even coma. It’s best to avoid eating any part of this plant.

6. Cherry Laurel Leaves

Cherry laurel is a beautiful evergreen shrub with glossy leaves, but these leaves are toxic if consumed. They contain cyanide-producing compounds that can cause respiratory distress, dizziness, and even cardiac arrest. Cherry laurel leaves should be avoided as a food source in survival situations.


Identifying safe tree leaves to eat can be a life-saving skill in survival situations. Knowing which tree leaves are edible and which are poisonous can help you make informed decisions when foraging for food. Remember, always err on the side of caution and consult an expert or guidebook if you’re unsure about a particular plant. Stay safe and happy foraging!

My 2 Cents

Foraging for edible plants in the wild can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s crucial to have proper knowledge and identification skills. When it comes to tree leaves, there are numerous safe options, such as birch, linden, mulberry, beech, oak, and pine tree needles. However, it’s essential to avoid poisonous leaves like yew, poison ivy, oleander, castor bean, angel’s trumpet, and cherry laurel. Remember, when in doubt, leave it out. Stay informed, stay safe, and happy foraging!